Percussion Faculty

Gustavo Agatiello

Instructor, Percussion
gagatiello@berklee.edu | 617 747-2838

"Growing up in Argentina after the dictatorship, there were not many resources in schools. I had some really good teachers, but music education was very sloppy. That turned out to be a positive, since I had to teach myself a lot of things I'd missed, espectially when I started teaching myself the vibraphone. That process has given me the sensitivity to see my students' missing links. I'm very sensitive to those things because they were in me at one point or another."

Sergio Bellotti

Assistant Professor, Percussion
sbellotti@berklee.edu | 617 747-8241

"My teaching approach is very practical; I'm not much into intellectualizing the music. I like to put my hands on the instrument with them and act like a sort of a coach on the field. I also believe our best teacher is our own body. Repetition will actually empower your body and teach you the most effective way to do what's best for you. And the drums are very physical, so when we sweat for half an hour, the body is sending messages about what to do and what not to do. It's like learning how to whistle. I wouldn't be able to teach you how to whistle. You have to try to imitate me till you get it."

Stephen Bolognese

Instructor, Percussion
sbolognese@berklee.edu | 617 747-2932

"I usually try to practice about six or seven hours a day. That's what I've been accustomed to, because for about eight or nine years I've been practicing next to two guys who were Berklee grads. They are the ones who showed me that it was essential to practice as much as possible. Playing metal for me is a little more physical than other styles. I find that a little speed workout really gets your body to loosen up, like going to the gym. I play for about a half hour, then I stretch out so my muscles feel relaxed. I tend to have an agenda written down before I practice, so that I know what I am trying to work on. That could be anything from sight-reading, chart-reading, styles, double bass, left hand, etc. That's what I was taught: be dedicated, organized, and a hard worker."

Terri Lyne Carrington

Professor, Percussion

"I've been performing with great jazz musicians since I was a kid. And I always revered them. It's been great to be part of a line of such amazing players. Teaching allows me to pass it on. Most of the masters of the music are gone now. So it's really important for me to be able to say, 'Dizzy Gillespie taught me this.'"

Eguie Castrillo

Associate Professor, Percussion
ecastrillo@berklee.edu | 617 747-8514

"If you want to really know the language of any instrument or any music, you have to go to the roots. I always say, I can teach you A-B-C-D-E-F-G until Z, but if I don't teach you how to put those letters together, to make words and make sense, you don't know what to do with them. Students have to learn—go back to the roots—no matter what instrument they play."

Henrique De Almeida

Associate Professor, Percussion
hdealmeida@berklee.edu | 617 747-6238

"There is a thread in this music. What they have in common is these little rhythmic cells, things that are actually from Africa and other ancient places. This is in Brazilian music, in Afro-Cuban music. It's in calypso, it's in New Orleans music. So there is a little musical DNA that's in all of them. It's like cooking. If you understand what curry does, what salt does, what pepper does, what garlic does, what olive oil does, you can play with food. I tell that to my students in every class: I don't want them to play rhythms; I want them to play withthe rhythms."

Kenwood Dennard

Professor, Percussion
kdennard@berklee.edu | 617 747-8184

"People say it's not what you know, it's who you know. But I say, don't you think it's how they feel when you're around that's most important? It was Charlie Mingus who showed me the importance of influencing the other members of the band. When I played with Mingus, he made me sound better just by being onstage."

Ernesto Diaz

Assistant Professor, Percussion
ediaz@berklee.edu | 617 747-8297

"I teach traditional, popular Caribbean and South American music. This music is a little tricky for musicians to play because it’s very syncopated, so for that reason, I really make sure that the student is well grounded in the beat."

Dave DiCenso

Associate Professor, Percussion
ddicenso@berklee.edu | 617 747-8452

"As musicians, we need to be great at multitasking. To open up your imagination is a form of multitasking. A drummer who's playing a groove—supporting a band—has to go beyond the strictly technical and physical places to find that great feel. One way is to focus, close our eyes, and imagine something related to what we're playing. That's going to inject feeling into our groove that's a little deeper than what it was a moment ago."

Marko Djordjevic

Assistant Professor, Percussion

"Before I came to Berklee, I had two great mentors, both of them really good musicians and teachers. One brought an awareness of how the instrument should be played; he stressed control, relaxation, keeping solid time, getting a great sound. The other helped me nurture my musical intuition and the creative spark by turning me on to the great improvisers of our time. Both mentors stressed musicality as the only viable starting point. This is what I strive to impart to my students. There has to be a musical idea first and foremost! There are times when I will stress the importance of the mechanics (technique), but only as a means to make better music. As Joe Hunt, one of my teachers at Berklee, used to say, ‘Technique is a vehicle which makes it possible for your musical idea to come across.’"

Larry Finn

Professor, Percussion
lfinn@berklee.edu | 617 747-8174

"Being a drummer is like being a professional athlete in that you have to be in shape both physically and mentally. A lot of people, when they see a drummer playing a repetitive groove for three minutes, might not realize how hard that is to do. It's difficult to put the whole package—good technique and a musical approach—together."

Richard Flanagan

Assistant Professor, Percussion
rflanagan@berklee.edu | 617 747-8408

"I work with my students to think musically, not just think about playing the exact notes or the exact time. Whatever you're laying down as the primary timekeeper, to make the time and the musical sense correct, it needs to have a musical purpose. When I teach a student to play a Bach piano piece on a marimba, for example, I first get them through the notes—to know how to read the music and use their hands mechanically. Then I ask them to play it musically—to make it breathe so it's not just notes and mechanics. I want my students to be aware of their dynamics, their musical presence, and the texture of what's going on around them."

Ian Froman

Associate Professor, Percussion
ifroman@berklee.edu | 617 747-8183

"I don't teach a standard drum lesson with books and exercises. I use a very conceptual approach: Open up your ears, listen to yourself play every single note, and be responsible for those notes so you can make mental—versus physical or technical—changes to your playing. If you play something you don't like, you can identify it and delete it from your playing. If it's something you do like, you can expand on that."

Joe Galeota

Associate Professor, Percussion
jgaleota@berklee.edu | 617 747-8135

"I focus on oral tradition, mostly call-and-response type learning. It's a bit like ear training. The majority of my classes are African music. I'll introduce the rhythms or the songs, and they have to learn them by ear. After we do that for a while we work on how it gets translated into Western notation. It's very informal, something like an apprenticeship."

Robert Gullotti

Professor, Percussion
rgullotti1@berklee.edu | 617 747-8065

"I want to get students to be very efficient in the practice room, focused and disciplined. So I have developed some ideas that help the student—and myself—to focus more while they practice. I have them know exactly how long they're going to practice. So if a student has an hour and a half, and I give them six subjects to work on, I want 15 minutes each subject, then put it away until the next day. Even if you're just about ready to get something pretty well, if the 15 minutes is up, you put it away until the next day. That way they don't waste any time practicing. That tends to help them on the bandstand to stay focused."

Skip Hadden

Professor, Percussion
shadden@berklee.edu | 617 747-8201

"I like to be able to see the students from when they enter—like in the audition process—to when they're in the classes, to when they graduate, and then, years later, they'll come back and knock on the door, and I'll see what they're doing or I'll read about them in magazines. Because I've been doing it for so long now, I've seen a couple generations of students go out and do well."

Jon Hazilla

Professor, Percussion
jhazilla@berklee.edu | 617 747-8213

"Playing brushes is a dying art. Brushes are hard to play and even harder to teach, because there's no standard notation; for one thing, a lot of it is visual. The foundation is the patterns to specific tempos: ballad strokes, mid-tempo strokes, up-tempo strokes, and specialty strokes. Students need to be able to play steady time within those tempos before we can talk about soloing."

Yoron Israel

Assistant Chair, Percussion
Also affiliated with: Berklee Online
yisrael@berklee.edu | 617 747-2703

"Drummers don't play an instrument where we're consistently called upon to play pyrotechnics and get paid for it. We have to blend with other musicians around us and make them feel good. So one of the things I emphasize in my teaching is sound and touch, which is very subtle and somewhat of a lost art in a lot of ways. But it's so important in the real world because you have to be able to play any given room, whether it's a tiny club or a festival amphitheatre."

Robert Kaufman

Professor, Percussion
rkaufman@berklee.edu | 617 747-8360

"Practicing is a disciplined study of ideas and information. Hopefully, this new information will reach deep parts of your mind and body and will eventually become a part of you. If you try to remember what it was like when you learned to walk and speak, you will acquire a more accepting and patient outlook toward yourself as you approach learning new material."

Jerry Leake

Associate Professor, Percussion
jleake@berklee.edu | 617 747-6134

 

"Living in current competitive conditions, drummers need to develop fundamental skills playing world percussion: congas, frame drums, cajón, or dumbek, for instance. With these added resources, assimilating traditional rhythms to drum set becomes easier and more profound. By focusing on the process of learning music (taking small steps), after years of work you will have traveled a great distance in your own journey. I tell students not to be determined to reach a goal or play like their heroes; rather, be devoted to the love of the art itself."

 

Bertram Lehmann

Assistant Professor, Percussion
blehmann@berklee.edu | 617 747-8292

"It's not enough to learn a drum pattern. You also need to know how the pattern works within the context of the music at large: how to pace yourself, how to balance the voices you're creating in your pattern, how to relate to the melody, and how to come in at the right point. I've been fortunate enough to have had a chance to play original music with people from Turkey and other countries, to get an idea of the sound and aesthetics associated with these styles. That's what I'm trying to transmit to students."

Victor Mendoza

Professor, Percussion
vmendoza@berklee.edu | 617 747-8282

"There is a misconception that you take one course in Latin music, therefore you know it all. That'd be like saying you studied one Bach prelude, therefore you understand Baroque music. When it comes to Latin music and Latin jazz, it goes very deep."

Ricardo Monzon

Associate Professor, Percussion
rmonzon@berklee.edu | 617 747-8515

"Traditional styles have been played the same way for many years. It can be hard to break that tradition if you're not from the area where a style comes from. You may have ideas but hesitate to express them because of the fear that natives of that area will criticize you; when somebody outside a culture makes changes to a tradition, sometimes people don't take it that well. I would say, respect the tradition and study it, but then build from there. Experiment and express yourself, make it your own. Don't let the tradition stop you; use it as a starting point. Because things have to keep changing."

Rod Morgenstein

Professor, Percussion
Also affiliated with: Berklee Online

"Most drummers are not involved in the creative songwriting process, and the bottom line is that, by and large, that is where the most significant amount of money is made. If you're one of those drummers who sits in the corner reading magazines and eating pizza while waiting for the rest of the band to get the song together so you can just add your oom-pah, oom-pah-pah to it, you can have a scenario where you'll still be home living with your parents and driving your 15-year-old car with 200,000 miles on it while the main songwriter in the band pulls up to rehearsal in a brand-new Porsche. . . . So I encourage my students to dig down deep and see if they have any kind of creative songwriting abilities. I want them to avoid what I had to live through. It took me a while to say, 'Oh, I get it. Time to come to the party.'"

Alberto Netto

Assistant Professor, Percussion
anetto@berklee.edu | 617 747-6009

"I make sure that students understand how to express themselves authentically, using proper articulation and phrasings when interpreting different kinds of music. It's like an actor interpreting different roles. One time they do comedy, another time drama, then a thriller, and so forth. When you know the roots and main elements of all the main grooves out there, you can communicate better both with audiences and other musicians, as well as with producers and arrangers."

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